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Power regulator chief unhappy with reforms

mumbai Updated: Jul 31, 2010 01:44 IST
HT Correspondent

The political class will have to do away with populist decisions if power sectors reforms were to find a place in the state, feels Maharashtra Electricity Regulatory Commission (MERC) chairman V. P. Raja.

“Electricity tariff rationalisation will be possible when mainstream players work together and politicians take some bitter decisions,” Raja said in his foreword to MERC’s annual report (2008-09). “And that doesn’t happen it will be hoping against hope.”

Raja’s comments are significant in view of the state’s pathetic power scenario — especially in Mumbai.

The tussle between the two major suppliers — Tata Power and RInfra — has created an unprecedented ordeal for consumers. “Reforms should ensure consumers interests and better services for at affordable tariff,” the chairman added.

The Electricity Act 2003 spells out power reforms for the states to follow.

Apart from deciding the tariff, the respective state regulatory commissions ensure that the states take a proper approach to reforms.

Consumers, companies and other players can take up their grievances to the commissions.

Raja, who is also a member of the state’s high-powered committee on power reforms, has always been in favour of consumers. “We need more forceful and coordinated efforts to implement the reforms in letter and spirit.”

“Electricity tariff rationalisation requires broader bipartisan support. Unless all the mainstream players are willing to act collectively and the political class is willing to bite the bullet, it will be unduly optimistic to expect significant positive outcomes,” Raja observed in the report, which was presented to the State Legislature early this week.

Raja, a former IAS officer, has worked with the Department of Atomic Energy before taking over the MERC reins.

On Wednesday, he called for expression of interest offers for running the controversial Mula Pravara Electric Cooperative Society, which has refused to pay Rs 2,000 dues to the state distribution company.

Raja said the commission intended to pro-actively push the reform agenda set forth in the Act so that the state’s generation, transmission and distribution sectors attract more investment.